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Prev Med. 2004 Jun;38(6):694-703.

Short- and long-term effects of tailored information versus general information on determinants and intentions related to early detection of cancer.

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Department of Health Promotion and Health Education, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.



Since it is widely accepted that the earlier cancer is detected, the better the chances of treatment and survival, people should be encouraged to create positive intentions toward early detection of several types of cancer, for instance, skin cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer. This can be done by being alert to the warning signs of cancer and seeking help once a cancer symptom is detected.


A randomized controlled study (n = 1,500) assessed the effects of computer-tailored information and general information on determinants and intentions to engage in early detection behaviors (i.e., passive detection and help seeking) compared with those in a control group. Possible negative side effects, like increased chronic fear of cancer and more fatalistic attitudes toward cancer, were studied as well.


Shortly after the intervention, differences between the study groups were found in intention, several social psychological determinants, and knowledge. Six months after the intervention, there were still differences between the tailored information group and the control group in intentions toward help seeking. Neither of the interventions resulted in increased chronic fear nor more fatalistic attitudes toward cancer.


It is concluded that there were positive effects of the tailored intervention on determinants, passive detection, and help-seeking intentions in the short-term, but additional research is needed to assess ways of maintaining these effects in the long-term.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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